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tv   Q A  CSPAN  August 4, 2013 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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with -- q and a with william seale >> this week on join date, -- this week on q and a, william seale discusses first ladies. seal, who has a reputation of having kept the best white house. >> as a residence? one,ably, that's a fast
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mrs. theodore roosevelt. the roosevelt. >> wide. -- why? >> the white house have been remodeled into him more modern setting. a was fresh and run like marine camp. everyone knew their job and everyone did it. that was true on all levels. it was spit and polish. >> the worst white house? >> the worst white house was ?arked i never -- white house i never think of the worst white house. the kerry harrison found white house in terrible condition. the structure was bad and the walls were in bad shape. moved out,oosevelts
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the germans moved into a pretty beat up house. the furniture was taken by the roosevelt. it was their own possession. things were beat up. it had been 13 years. it was pretty run down. that is not why truman remodeled the house, though. no president has time to do the house over. they had a requirement for it. the security was the basis of this with german. not the fact that it was shabby. the secret service said that it was too dangerous. the house was a house of would, primarily. one firebomb could ignite it. truman was presented a report that was done a week or two after pearl harbor.
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it was the safety of the president. when it was finished, truman finished remodeling it in 1952, it was the safest place in the world. it was concrete blocks and steel. every room was and caged in steel. steel.ged in bombs could go off and they thought that nothing could happen. but of course, that changed. >> which first lady was the most intelligent? >> there were a lot of those. these things.e on you really do. , i wouldning sense return to mrs. roosevelt. she was more happy with the book than anything in the world. when he waspart
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president. that was not her way. she was a bookish and intellectual woman. there had been people like that before. mrs. fillmore. and, mrs. harrison. no one has ever heard of her anymore, but she was very smart and politically astute. reasons i am asking these questions is because you have been involved with c-span doing the first lady series. we are on our summer hiatus. we have done 16 program so far. it does not matter what era. there are 19 programs to do. what are the milestone years for first ladies throughout history. >> i would say, certainly, mrs. adams.
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her first time in the white house. she was a very bright and capable lady. on a social side, dolly madison. then, you have other first ladies. ladies.en't many first i would take it out from there niece.ident buchanan's many people would say that was the grandest white house that ever happened. a young girl and her uncle. she was his hostess. she was 15. she came to the white house and she knew how she wanted to be. she was single. it was splendid on the eve of the civil war, with all the drum
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it -- the drama that went into that. nephew, harriet and buck. >> why did he raise them? >> their parents died. >> he is cited as one of the worst presidents. how did that track at the time? lincoln appreciated his holding the union together. he was a brilliant diplomat. sometimes that is not appreciated. the diplomacy is another matter. diplomats and a talented and older man when he took office. he was kind of a celebrity. people taught he would bring
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keys or a more even life then pierce. he had done what he could. but not much. >> which first lady would like to have dinner with? , mrs.e i go again roosevelt. teddy roosevelt's wife. >> sure. why? >> because she is tremendous company. dolly madison was tremendous company. tremendousower was company. she was giddy and fun. she made people laugh and had everyone feeling good. will i havejohnson, had dinner with, was a wonderful person. she is charming to be with. a woman to get their -- and
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woman, to get there, has to have some charm. >> we have video clips of comments about white houses and first ladies and all of that. the first one is a professor at american university. he did a book on the white house. show a couple years ago. this is about martha washington's slave. out in 1796,ound that martha washington was planning to give her away. during the planning, slaves were away.
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this was upsetting, because the washington's had promised to free their slaves when they died. and she was going to be given away, that meant that she was going to be in slavery. she may plan to escape. she talks about this later, one whenng, in 1796, washington was sitting at the dinner table, literally, waiting for them to serve him, she escaped. she -- george decides that they are going to kidnap her. that was fairly common. >> how many stories are there like this? >> many.
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there were always african americans in the white house. james buchanan's administration. were upset.ners he dismissed the african- american staff and brought in irish and english house servants. that is the only time that happened. left the hercules, washington compound and was never found again. they think he was in new york. they do not know. not a lot of effort was made to find him. hise is trouble about slaves and hers. he freed his and he did not free hers. i do not know the rest of the stories. often did people give a
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slave away for a wedding gift? >> all the time. all the time. my great grandmother received a slave as a wedding present. they were together the rest of their lives, even after the civil war. always. hand in glove. they died within a short time of each other. in east texas. but your grandmother or great- grandmother question mark >> -- your grandmother or great- grandmother? >> great-grandmother. >> have you ever studied it? >> as much as i can. i have always been interested in african-american history. it is exciting what you can find. you think it is a blank wall but it is not at all.
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you just keep digging deeper and deeper. i enjoy that with the white house. ,he first white house was built in part, by african-american slaves. they could get the education from me european workers -- from the the european workers -- from the european workers. african-american mixed with african americans. the first bonded steward of the white house was african- american. because of things of value in the white house were under his responsibility. he died under johnson. -- sarah martin, on the massachusetts historical society, has a comment about
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abigail adams. ladies"remember the letter is a letter that everyone knows. what is fascinating about the comments,that the quite far down in the letter -- the comments, quite far down in the letter -- the comments come quite far down in the letter. she is voicing her concerns about virginia in the revolutionary war. >> your favorite story about abigail adams? >> she complained constantly when she got down south to washington about how nothing is as efficient as it should be. she commented that two new englanders to do the work of 12
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southerners. that sort of thing amused me with her. interesting, virginia versus new england. withis a question historians. most of the things that involve our liberty come from the assemblies in virginia. there is still an argument about where it comes from. she thought it all came from new england, the principles that the country was built on. she have an impact on the early 1800s? >> i don't think so. that was a personal level -- letter. shows women's writes. -- rights. you had the lady who stood up for her rights to do business
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with a man. , this was 1700, it comes up again and again. as you move west, in the state's constitutions, there is more and more property rights is the basis of it all. ithave any right in the law, rises from that. and he did, all through the century. -- and it did, alter the century. -- all through the century. encourage the participant. inauguration, the
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wilson had betrayed them. led byfragettes were agnes mulholland. she wore a toga floating in the wind. the taft women went. a rocket in a perfectly horrible scene of men beating up and punching the women. it was an ugly scene. president taft was always in favor of women's writes. -- rights. >> what did the president do about african-americans in the white house? did they use slaves in the white house? >> no. unless there are some who were hired that we do not know about. .onroe use slaves
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he sold one from the white house, as a matter of fact. some of the household's domestic staffs were trained to do all of those things that need to be done in a place at the white house. the food, the decor, all of alterand they were hired, the history of the white house, to do that. >> i want to bring you back to one more. this is ongoing medicine and slaves. >> she fell on very hard times. whendifferent from the day someone leaves the presidency and you are guaranteed security for the rest of your life. that was not the case during that. -- during that time. although, she had done wrong, he felt some human compassion. he writes, in his memoirs, he
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would bring her food and give her money when he had it. the mid-1840sby or so, dolly madison was pretty up there in age. she had no one to look after her. he writes that he did what he could with what he had. he became somewhat successful once he got his freedom. >> paul jennings is who he is talking about. he was raised in the house. with slept in the room james madison. madison wouldn't have sold anything or anybody, but she had this rotten son by her first
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marriage. i do not know what happened to him. he went wrong somewhere. and a bada drunk character. he would sell anything that she had. -- the diaries of madison that were cap illegally at the dusk usual convention, henry clay. congress to pay $25,000 for them. that was a year or's salary for a president. that was a lot of money. all.orst part of it hegoes on, the slave traders brought into the house, the maid who was with her forever, was sold. a friend was there and he said that it was horrible. it was like they were poking around on him -- on them.
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they looked like frightened doves. mrs. madison had no power over him. it is a terrible story. >> who gets the gold star for freeing them? died, before they died. unit -- you hear all the stories about freeing the slaves when they die. >> grant. he freed them. where do we get the idea of all men are created equal when we lived in a society like this? >> there are other people who could answer that question better than me, but i think it is the racial distinction. people were willing
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to except, as fast, that they were inferior. there was a decree that all of the indians were human beings. they were not to be treated badly, but they were. that did not include lack people. this occurs that ran through history and is being rectified. it has taken a long time. adams wife.ncy >> what a pain in the neck. she was beautifully educated and raised in england. her father was a merchant named johnson. she and john quincy married. a stiff upper lip guy. he was pushed into the diplomatic service as a teenager. he was in on bending character. he is a gripping moral character and a great politician.
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she spent half of her life saying that he did not love her and complaining about her. she was apparently a gracious and lovely hostess. she wrote a long strange essay saying that her husband never loved her. who saw that? i do not know. it is in the paper. she is a strange in erotic woman. he was very strict and very particular about everything. he had his interests. and hed his diary partitioned today. my gosh, that's the way it went. he was swimming in the creek sometimes. that's the way he lived. there was no soft edges to him.
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caroline at the adams is google park. she's talking about catherine adams. she was brought to meet her father and brother at law. -- brother-in-law. louisa catherine had a challenge. john adams was easy. she always felt comfortable with them and well-liked by him. abigail was skeptical. he only gave abigail a little bit of information about louisa catherine and was not forthright in his attentions. it was a surprise that he married lucy catherine so quickly and abigail did not get a chance to know her. she was concerned that she was an american citizen but had
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never step foot on american soil. >> they, like the roosevelts, were married in london and not in this country. adams was a bossy lady. she wanted people to do things her way in her family. she had repercussions from that. andles died an alcoholic left a little girl for her to raise. she was a controlling individual. she wanted have all the facts. >> let's go to rachel jackson. tell us something about rachel jackson. >> she never went to the white house as first lady. she died after jackson's electionn before -- before the inauguration. she lived under the shadow of
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political use of the question of their marriage. they were not married legally. she was married to another man. they ran away to the mississippi area and live together. he claims that they were married. campaign, and became a big issue and jackson never got over it. all of her life, she was embarrassed by it. she smoked a pipe. she was an excellent plantation manager. on the public side of things, no. she was very hurt by it. judge overton, a best friend of the family, wrote an essay about the scandal of not being married. they did remarry. he invited them to marry.
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that theyton said went to mississippi and, as they say, they were married. he would not go any further than that. >> what andrew jackson do after his term? had his wife tossed emily. she died in the second administration. oversaw the margaret o'neill scandal. known of loose morals married a member of the cabinet. they would not accept or. -- her.
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she had authority. the women would not call on her or receive her. mrs. jackson was not treated that way. but, peggy was not a very nice person. >> national. ille.shv jackson died 1828. he is writing to his friend and he describes the onset of rachel's illness. he says that she was a few days hence. suddenly, she was violently attacked with pains in her left shoulder. breathtraction of the
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caused suffocation. it is clear that she is in serious condition. she talks about going to washington. she assumes that she will get better and will go. not andately, she did she passed away later in the day. like,tory, it seems during the first half of our series, there are a lot of husbands. to be tough as a boot to make it. you can dig a hole body bath and die of pneumonia. -- you could take a hole body bath and die of pneumonia. you would buy things put together to make a medicine. they had very little hat and stuff, in the early days. patent stuff in the early days.
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pulled -- polk was the only one who stayed. they always blamed his death on , which gave off a gas from a marsh behind the white house. there is a drop of 12 or 15 feet and it was marshy. followed that used to come up. up.og used to come jefferson used to talk about how evil it was. orjames fulk was a one term one-termer.a what was his wife like? >> she got what she wanted.
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washington to serve her job as first lady. the things that she believed, .ot allowing dancing or alcohol dolly madison had introduced whiskey punch in washington. people like that. she allowed wine, but no more punch. she asserted herself. .he had been a help to him he was a quiet man and very smart. she ran interference for him. throughout their young married life and onward. arrangedere any marriages between the first ladies and presidents? question off that i can recall.
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as far as a deal being made? no. john tyler, how many kids? >> eight. >> he is having them clear up to the civil war. >> his wife was ill. she died in the white house. not long after, he married one of his daughter's good friends. she was in her 20s. they had quite an elegant two months as president and first lady. there is a funny letter of julia, the wife us sister was up muchays that you spent so time hugging and kissing when you should be making hay for your family. here is the great-grandson of john tyler, harrison, do you know him question mark >> yes.
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grandfather fell in and they came renting out. -- running out. when she heard that, my grandmother fainted. he caught her tenderly and gently. he picked her up and carried her. as she was going down the to.plank, she came the first thing she remembered was coming to in the arms of the president. she struggled and fell into the quick of his arm. the presidenthat love her dearly. >> i'm sure it is true. >> he came at her tenderly and gently. explain the circumstances.
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>> they took the princeton out on the river. dolly madison was there. all the celebrities were there. they fired this in your ms. thisn and it backfired -- romousr miss -- eno cannon and a backfired. she lived many years. >> how old was she when she married? something.0 >> what was the reaction in the country? >> i think they were pretty happy. it was pretty interesting to people. this hostess had been the daughter-in-law. it was very interesting.
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she was the first. she got the gate bitterly. julia took over. appearance ater the white house. some people laughed week as she dressed up in a royal manor and stood on a platform and nodded at the guests like queen victoria. people made fun of her. she was a very popular person and it was a popular time. the polk's came in and it was not as sherry. -- cheery. >> i don't know. funny, abouts history, associating it with a , sometimes they just
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become players. you just think about them. the white house is a place. it is a place they'll pass through. it is part of this big story. it is interesting to me so i remember it. >> you wrote about the white house and a two volume series. >> is in the second edition. the president's house. bushed at the end of the administration. >> if people are interested question mark >> you can go to the web. interested? are >> you can go to the lab. -- web. .> sherwood forest, their home
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how can john tyler's grandson still be alive? >> the old man had young children. >> this is a woman without a chaperone. the president's wife having dinner. mother a letter. i think it is priceless. , i wore myther husband to vote for the annexation of texas. he said to me that texas should not be annexed to the union and he would rather be right than president. and my husband is both. is betterat the reply than a statement from clay, which was used so frequently.
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julia having lunch with henry clay. >> it would be amazing and formal. just the two of them. it is odd for to build and have dinner at the white house, as you know. informal.ave been he was very courteous and amusing to be with. she seems to be, for someone when not climbed the political letter and had just come in from new york society. new york member of a family. she was as charming as anything could be. , it was a high ceilings room and butlers are coming in and out. over the years, you have told a lot of stories to a lot of audiences, what is the story everyone likes the most? >> there are several.
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the burning of the white house. the flight of mrs. madison is the one that turns people on. my from its store is about mckinley, of all people. the forgotten president who change the presidency. the spanish american war was going to happen 80 he needed money. he called the speaker of the house to the white house around they talked he -- and talked and he said, write down what you need. he wrote 50 million on defense. two or three days later, the speaker had it for him. that put the war in the president's hands. it elevated the residents to the level of power that he had not had since george washington. andw presidency was coming mckinley was killed and teddy
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roosevelt was left to dramatize the new presidency. pierce. >> franklin was staying in and jane's on goal had died. they went to the funeral. they were gingrich moved to the white house. about aately, they were the trainf andover slipped on and embankment. the child was moving about. this was within five minutes of the train ride starting. he hit his head severely. he did not survive the crash. the services for any took place at mary's house. any, but janeury
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it did not attend. jane was very sick for most of her life. she has been referred to as tubercular. >> it is a very sad story. down and hisnt whole top of his head was crushed. that is the second little boy lost. no one would get over that. she became very morose. she wrote letters to him all the time, and the white house, and the jefferson davis's had a little boy. he was four years old. she developed an attractive -- attraction to this child.
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he died. she was crushed. >> the davis child. >> the davis child died. >> geoff davis goes on to be the president of the confederacy. what is the timing of all this? -- we see him through the fall of the confederacy. he was a west point engineer. he made his name in the battle of monterey where he did the addled plan for general taylor. it is still studied in military history. he went to mississippi. wiferried his first general taylor's daughter. oped and she- elp
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died on the honeymoon. they were near baton rouge. diptheria or -- something, i don't know. , he married someone from mississippi. pushy,, i hate to say what she was. she was a very aggressive lady. everyone knewent, her and she was the belle of washington. president's, too. to put it in modern terminology, it would have been
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a sensational thing for this couple leaving on the train to go south when the civil war and began -- the civil war had began. it was not really a firebrand. he was not as excessive as some of these others. he was a dyed in the wool southerner. >> here is jennifer walton. with buchanan in lebanon, but the van you -- pennsylvania. unfortunately, for such a buoyant and remarkable woman, you can see a lot about her with the tragedies that mark her life. she lost both of her parents.
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several young siblings. the loss of her three siblings who had reached adulthood. her view -- her beloved of goal. the deaths of her two young sons and her husband. laneu can see, harriet held many trinkets. them were used for more intimate and sad occasions. i have pieces of mourning jewelry here. lockets contains the hair of her mother father and sister. it is unique. it goes into a little ball. are glass plates. under each glass plates is the hair of each of the family members. >> it seems like we hear so much about death.
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how do you deal with that? >> he was closer to them than us. it happened. several first ladies have died in the white house. a number of children. >> how many? wilson,harrison, mrs. mrs. tyler, i believe that is all. it was a major thing. it seems that there is one more. >> heavy studied all these first ladies -- have you studied all of these first ladies? >> wheeling's is an exceptional site. there.- everything is
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harriet lane was a wealthy woman. when she died in 1917, it was said that she was the most highly respected woman in the united states. laneounded the harriet children's hospital. she founded the saint albans school. she did many good things. she did not go into a shell. active and into things and doing good works. she was a strong woman. not a scholar or a learned type woman. she was a people type lady. >> how many first ladies were college educated? -- mrs. polk went
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to an academy. mrs. harrison. >> benjamin harrison's wife. > mary lincoln. let's listen to edith mayo talk about robert lincoln and his mother. throwing money and ingney -- sewu g money and bonds into her skirts. she was so worried she was impoverished. she was not allowed to testify on her own behalf. all of the people who made this decision were men. pillars all these male
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of the community testifying andt how she has gone off needs to be institutionalized. verdict on her? was she mentally insane? >> i think she's manic. -- and there was something wrong. she was not a successful first lady. constantly in controversy. she rode irresponsible letters to people. she was course. beautiful and educated. to jeffersonters davis as "jeff." she lost three sons. left.obert todd was
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he was cold as a fish. ice cold. the one that she was close to. she was terrified of not having any money. they think that people were taking advantage of them and it is understandable. she could not leave anything. she got mixed up at the white house staff in funny ways. there is a green house attached to the white house, she was in there in the winter and the ener got close to her. tell him too much and
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he got access to the office and took one of lincoln's speeches. he gave it to an unscrupulous person. and hist todd lincoln son are buried out here. the rest of the family is in springfield. why did he stay away from the family? >> i don't know. i don't know that at all. -- was robbed, as you know. he is not there. he is associated with washington and lived in georgetown. >> here is a net dunlop -- annette dunlop. >> is like beauty and the beast. they did not like him. he was 49 importantly.
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-- and portly. she was a stunner. hair, blue eyes, very good looking for her age. part, the guys they fell in love with her, they accepted him. apart. were 20 years he had known her since she was born. of his the child business partner and she was his ward. they were very much in love with each other. he could not stand the press ever mentioning her. she was the first first lady lady who was news all of the time. politically.r
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movediddle term that they to new york, she was the belle of the city. everyone crowded around her because she was very witty and very pretty. she had a political way. princess of spain came to -- world'srld' spare fair. pearls. a white downd wore and a wedding band. she was the winner. >> richard smith came up with the idea of talking about mrs. mckinley. --the governor of all heil
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when he was governor of ohio, he would stop what he was doing and mrs. mckinley could see. -- you know,ist the obvious thing would have --and it leadaw to uncomfortable things. we have testimony about william howard taft sitting next to the first lady. the mckinley's sat next to each other. would drape as napkin over her face. >> president mckinley was
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killed. >> she lived about a year. it is to everyone's surprise. and she was as strong as she could be through the whole thing. she accompanied the body back to canton, ohio. >> did he ever do the napkin thing in public? >> at state dinners. frequently. >> is there a history about the reaction of the people? >> people were very genteel about it. they commented about it. there was never a scene at a back innner except monroe's time. there were stores pulled across
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the table. the president had to break it up. other than that and joan crawford, i do not know of any incidents. >> under clinton. dinner of the first first lady that you met. >> mrs. nixon. two weeks before he resigned. >> what was that like? >> she was very charming. she wanted a movie done about the white house. she said that we need to start with the information. she was all for it. she was very lively and interesting. >> how many other first ladies have you met since then? >> all of them. i do not know mrs. obama very well.
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the other ones i have known well enough. talk to you to about the white house. toeither that, or they want do a talk. there is no intimacy. i was never and have never been --and it ministration administration. going in as a person doing research. >> you are associated with the white house officially? >> the white house historical association is independent. publications and assumes the responsibility of interpreting the white house to the american people. jefferson opened the white house and it has to be shown as the people's house. there are a lot that people want
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to know. especially, about the kde association. that is when the association was founded. with the association does is interpret the white house to the american people. pure and simple nonprofit job. your reaction to the white house stopping towards? if they have to protect the president, they have to stop the doors. i will tell you, no president wants to stop that. i have to protect the president. usthe obama have not shown any of their personal quarters. we do not know what they look like? >> it happens a lot. in the earlier periods of the 20th century, you never got into the truman's private quarters. you would've gotten into the roosevelts as a guest. whyobama's have so little
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busy. they have a suite of 15 or 20 rooms where they know that they can go into a room and not look of people. it is understandable. the series on first lady lady's startup on september 9. what do you think -- how will they react. is the first half more theresting question mark >> first half is more traditional his store coal. this one is more modern. this is when we become a world power. that is the theme of the 20th century. when you go back, there is so much footage and so many issues.
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judge people immediately. i know there are many people who do. >> which one of these would you most like to be involved with. >> theodore roosevelt, franklin roosevelt, william howard taft, all of them. harry s truman. >> we're out of time. the white house historian. thank you so much for talking with us. >> great to be here. >> for dvd copies of this program, call our number. for a free transcript or to give visit us at our website.
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[captioning performed bynational captioning institute][captions copyright nationalcable satellite corp. 2013] >> we have never really know what to do with our first ladies. especially in more recent times. they are expected to have causes . you cannot imagine one without a cause. on the other hand, those causes are not permitted to intrude upon lawmaking. capacity. it is all has been a tight rope. seeing how each of these women walk that tightrope tells you a lot not only about them but about the institution. oure begin


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